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Sudan coup: Medics say armed forces attacked hospitals, blocked ambulances

Doctors' committee describes actions as 'crime against humanity' as civilians prevented from receiving treatment
Sudanese protesters carry an injured man to safety during an anti-coup demonstration in Burri, in the eastern part of capital Khartoum, on 13 November 2021 (AFP)
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Khartoum

Medical sources have told Middle East Eye that unprecedented violence has been used against protesters in Sudan since the 25 October coup, including attacks by security forces on hospitals and ambulances being prevented from accessing the injured. 

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors and the health ministry have confirmed that at least 20 protesters have been killed since the start of the coup, while medical sources said 150 protesters had been injured over the same period.

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“We saw violence that hasn’t been practised before, as not only were protesters killed, but the security forces attacked four hospitals - including Omdurman hospital, Waad hospital and Eastern Nile hospital,” one of the sources, who asked not to be named for security reasons, said.

“They prevented civilians from getting treatment in the military hospital in Omdurman, and also prevented ambulances from transporting some critical cases from Omdurman to Khartoum."

Sudan’s army chief Abdel Fattah al-Burhan arrested Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok on 25 October, along with several other key officials, and seized control of the country. The ensuing three weeks of military rule have witnessed widespread internet shutdowns and violence from authorities and paramilitary groups.

The move has been labelled a military coup by Sudanese civil society, which has pushed for a democratic transition in the country since 2019. Tens of thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets to denounce the power grab.

Police denial

Sudanese police have denied any involvement in the repression of demonstrators or any illegal actions, claiming that officers were forced to intervene after protests became violent.

In two separate statements, the police said that more than 50 officers had been injured since protests began on 25 October.

“The protests began peacefully but suddenly turned violent, pushing the police to use minimal force to stop it, so we only used tear gas and we don’t know where reports about the use of live ammunition come from,” a police statement read on Saturday.

“Some unknown doctors groups claimed that the police have used live ammunition and killed some protesters. We confirm here that these reports are incorrect and aimed at destabilising the situation.”

The Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors is the most well-known pro-democracy medical organisation in Sudan.

At least six people were killed and 40 protesters seriously wounded at pro-democracy protests over the weekend, according to the committee, after security forces deployed live rounds of ammunition and tear gas against the demonstrators. 

A police source, who requested anonymity because he was not authorised to talk to the media, claimed that some protesters had burned down a police vehicle in the “Seven Station” area of Khartoum on Saturday.

However, a protester present in the area that day said that police had intentionally burned the vehicle in order to give themselves an excuse to act with premeditated violence.

The military has also denied involvement in violence against the protesters, while another army spokesman contacted by MEE gave no response.

'Against international law'

A Sudanese legal expert, who asked not to be named for security reasons, told MEE that the actions of the authorities were "a crime against humanity".

“The attacks on the ambulances, hospitals and patients, in addition to the cutting of the internet and preventing some local calls [from going through] means that they want to hide what is going on," he said.

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"This is against international law and amounts to a crime against humanity.”

In a statement released on Saturday, the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors called “on international human rights organisations to intervene in order to monitor and report this violence to help in the accountability of those criminals”.

Hundreds of demonstrators rallied in Khartoum on Wednesday, as activists took to the streets, chanting “No to military power.”

The military has continued to cut off local phone and SMS services, while international calls can reportedly still be accessed, as the country enters its 24th day of an internet blackout, Reuters reported. 

Large protests are expected across the country to mark the #Nov17March against the military coup, with protesters demanding a complete handover of power to civilian authorities and court trials for the coup leaders.